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I teach abroad and continue to pursue the life I was given as if it was my last. Many people think it is. In my spare time, I enjoy lapping up ice cream, reading spy novels, and euthanizing manta rays.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An unassuming Tuesday in the dark

August 31, 2010

As Ice Cube once said, "Today was a good day..." Whereas he messed around and had a triple-double, I just did the double. University double, that is. Met the University president (Vice-Chancellor) and his deputy in back-to-back meetings this morning.  The former had his self-portrait hanging behind his desk. I nearly said something. He is actually Kenyan and had a painting of marathon runners on the same wall. In between the two works of art was a rug depicting a cigarette-smoking dog and cat playing poker at a casino. It had to have been a gift from a dignitary. Or maybe an heirloom. On the other hand, the couches in his office couldn’t have been more comfortable. He must take 3-6 naps per day in them. I would.

His deputy was a large man who spoke from the heart. So frickin' sage. Wisdom and experience oozed out of every pore of the dude. I listened and shuddered. I have so much to live up to. They are expecting so much. I am not a savior nor a wunderkind. Just a fellow on a ride. 

Several hours earlier...

It's 3:35 a.m. and you can find me enclosed in mosquito netting.  After six hours of sleep, my eyes open to complete darkness. I stick my left hand underneath the netting to trawl the floor for the essentials: my flashlight, cell phone, and bottled water. No dice. I'll have to sit up and thus wake up. Finally I  make out the figures just inches from my fingertips.

 I’m still jet-lagged; now less so than three days ago but the early morning awakenings are still part of my first-week routine. I search for something to eat. Wheat bread or a half-eaten pineapple?. My index finger is longer than the knife I have so I choose the bread. A mosquito flies in an aperture near the kitchen sink. I wonder if it’s a female. I wonder if it’s carrying malaria. I wonder if it’s going to attack my skin with raw abandon seen only in Pixar movies and National Geographic documentaries. I turn out the lights and try to crawl back into my netting. Enmeshed and thoroughly distracted, I lay on my hard pillow and listen to the symphony of the night. Three dogs are singing the cacophonous sounds that only hunger can inspire. One of them seems wounded. The other two are in my front yard, barking at the top of their lungs for something I shan't and won't give them.  Are they trying to warn me or just piss me off? Are they hungry or in pain? Within minutes, it’s all quiet again and I reach for my Ipod to temper the white noise with soothing sounds of Neil Young and Sarah MacLoughlin.

Soon I’m asleep and dreaming of the things I did not bring but wished I had:

·       A coffee maker
·       A Swiss Army knife
·       A soft pillow
·       More linen shirts
·       My guitar
·       A 50" flatscreen with built-in DVD and nonstop reruns of "Seinfeld"
·       A printer/scanner
·       A second mitt to teach Dan how to play baseball
·       Shoe polish

Tomorrow I start my assignment in earnest. I can't wait to see 80 students waiting to hear me lecture. I am really curious as to what is going to happen. 

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